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Company hired minors to clean 'saws, headsplitters, jawpullers' at slaughtering and meat packing plants: DOL
Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Company hired minors to clean 'saws, headsplitters, jawpullers' at slaughtering and meat packing plants: DOL

The Department of Labor issued a nationwide temporary restraining order and injunction against a Tennessee firm, accusing the company of hiring minors to work overnight shifts at slaughtering and meat packing plants, according to recent court filings.

On Wednesday, the DOL claimed that Fayette Janitorial Service LLC, a commercial cleaning service provider, "illegally" hired "children to clean and sanitize spaces and equipment during overnight shifts to fulfill sanitation contracts at a Perdue Farms plant in Accomac, Virginia, and at Seaboard Triumph Foods LLC in Sioux City."

The agency noted that the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits minors from "working in dangerous occupations, including most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering, processing, rendering and packing establishments."

According to the department's court filings, the firm contracted 15 children as young as 13 years old in Virginia. It allegedly hired at least nine minors in Iowa to work overnight sanitation shifts.

An investigation conducted by the DOL's Wage and Hour Division found that the company's contracted minor employees at the Iowa plant were hired to "clean power-driven machines, including meat and bone cutting saws, headsplitters, jawpullers, and skinners."

Children employed at the Virginia facility were also tasked with cleaning power-driven meat processing machines, court filings claimed. The department reported that a 14-year-old child at the facility "suffered severe injuries while employed by Fayette" in 2022. According to the filings, the child "reached into a machine to remove a piece of debris," and the machinery tore the child's forearm. The minor suffered "significant blood loss and severe lacerations."

"Someone at the Perdue Facility's sanitation office called 911 to report Minor Child J's injury. The dispatcher asked how old Minor Child J was. The caller responded 'um,' and the line went dead... When the call reconnected thirty seconds later, the dispatcher again asked the age of the injured employee and was told Minor Child J was 19 years old," the court filings read.

It added that the child was hospitalized for 12 days, missed a month of school, and required three surgeries, "including substantial skin grafts from his thighs to his arms, and six months of physical therapy before he could move his arm."

Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda accused the company of committing an "egregious violation" of labor laws.

A spokesperson for Fayette Janitorial LLC told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the company has "a zero-tolerance policy for minor labor in the workforce." The spokesperson stated that the firm has "been fully cooperating and complying with an ongoing investigation by the Department of Labor in relation to events that occurred in prior years."

"We have continued to work diligently to ensure that something like this cannot occur. Fayette has made significant procedural improvements and enhancements over the past two years to bolster our hiring protocols, including a biometric technology to assist in employee processes, the hiring of a new CEO, and adding an additional third-party legal representation to aid in the vetting of employees. Fayette Janitorial is committed to always providing a lawful, ethical employment, as well as a safe and secure work environment – adhering to any and all guidelines set in place," the spokesperson told DCNF.

Blaze News previously reported that the DOL had opened an investigation into Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms over allegations that the companies illegally contracted migrant children to work in hazardous positions at their slaughtering and meat packing facilities.

In September, the New York Times published an exposé regarding the 14-year-old migrant child whose arm was mutilated while working at the Virginia facility. The child reportedly provided false documents that claimed he was in his 20s, the outlet reported. According to the Times, the Perdue plant was "full of migrant kids working in violation of child labor laws."

"We are appalled by these recent allegations as they are not representative of who we are as a company and what we stand for," Perdue said in a September statement.

At the time, both Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods stated that the DOL had not notified them about any pending investigations. Tyson Foods previously declined a request for comment from NPR.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →